When she got texts about “an active shooter” at the Mandalay Bay, York County native Lindsay Bowman was about a half-mile away, relaxing between sets of a performance at the Las Vegas Strip’s Lift Bar at the Aria Resort and Casino.
It was about 10:30 p.m., and the bar manager asked Bowman, a singer in the Nashville-based duo Smoke ‘n Guns, to keep performing even though the bar was on lockdown. Bowman guessed that was to help keep people calm.
But as details emerged from what would become the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, panic ensued.
On Sunday evening, a gunman fired from a 32nd floor hotel room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino into a crowd of about 22,000 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Vegas Strip, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500.
Bowman said she was not hurt and was able to spend much of the night away from most of the chaos in the shelter of the Aria’s basement.
After hearing of an active shooter, Bowman said, “I was a little uncomfortable, but we started our next set.” She started by singing “Road Less Traveled” by Lauren Alaina, who had performed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
“I don’t know, but maybe at that point people started hearing what had happened,” Bowman said. “(Hundreds of) people started running and screaming through the casino toward the bar. We didn’t know if the shooter had come in there or if there were multiple shooters. At the time, they were saying two to three gunmen.”
She said people ran behind the bar, into the kitchen, trying to get away. Staff from the Aria took Bowman and her band partner, Alecia Arnall, into the basement, where they stayed until 3 a.m.
Bowman said she felt safe there, thanks to staff and hotel security, but got an “eerie” feeling when a policeman with a canine came through and asked her and others to move into an employee break room so he could check the hallway.
“It was hard to know what was going on at that point and, of course, everybody’s going to give their speculation about ‘Oh, I heard this and that,’ ” Bowman said. “We just decided we were going to stay in a room until we knew for sure that the shooter had been found and that it was OK to leave.”
Bowman and Arnall left the Aria about 4 a.m. after they found an Uber driver to take them back to their hotel. It was then that she said she began hearing about the increasing numbers of dead and wounded.
Early Monday morning, law enforcement revealed details of what happened that evening and identified the shooter as Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree from Mesquite, Nevada. SWAT teams used explosives to enter his hotel room and found that Paddock had killed himself, officials said. Officials said they found 19 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in the hotel room. In an afternoon news conference, officials said additional guns and ammunition were found in his home.
The shooter appeared to fire unhindered for more than 10 minutes as Las Vegas police tried to locate the source of the shooting in one of the Mandalay Bay hotel towers, reported The Associated Press. For several minutes, officers could not tell whether the fire was coming from Mandalay Bay or the nearby Luxor hotel. Officials reported Paddock had killed himself by the time they got to the hotel room.
In an address to the country, President Donald Trump called the attack “an act of pure evil,” adding, “In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one. And it always has.”
Local news outlets reported at least two of the people injured were from Hampton Roads. WAVY reported that Allison Crute, a nurse who grew up in Virginia Beach, was shot in the arm and will have to have surgery. Andrew Kampe, a Norfolk resident and Crute’s boyfriend, was hit in the arm, but his injuries don’t require surgery.
Law enforcement throughout Hampton Roads took to social media to extend thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.
U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-Newport News, released a statement Monday to express condolences and to say that “mass shootings are far too common in our country.”
Scott is vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. He said the government is charged with protecting its people and called on the president and Congress to address the country’s “gun violence epidemic.”
He called action on the issue long overdue and highlighted recommendations by the task force such as establishing a select committee as a possible step forward.
In Vienna, democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam canceled anti-gun violence campaign events “in light of recent events,” according to a news release from his office.
Northam was not scheduled to attend, but the events were planned to feature Gabrielle Giffords, a former congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in the head in 2011 and has since advocated for stronger gun control.
Bowman said she hoped people would come together after the tragedy. “There’s been so much hate going on lately and I hope that everybody will come together and love each other and support each other,” she said.
Sunday was Bowman’s Las Vegas debut, and from her time as a York High student, performing on the Strip had been a dream. She hopes to make it back to perform, but first, she’s praying for the victims and for healing from the tragedy.